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Playtest: Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17

By Greg Raven

Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough from Unique is an advanced German-engineered monofilament string made with polyether. Unique tells us that polyether makes the string softer and more forgiving, increasing shock absorption and comfort, while retaining an incredible combination of power, durability and resistance to movement. The “rough” appellation means it is extruded with a pentagonal shape and then twisted, providing a string with serious bite and spin potential.

Unique tells us that Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough is designed for advanced players looking for a powerful poly that provides extra bite and superb ball pocketing.

Big Hitter Blue Rough is available in 16 (1.25 mm) and 17 (1.20 mm) in blue only. It is priced from $7.95 for sets of 40 feet, and $74 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Unique at 800-554-3707, or visit www.uniquesports.us. Be sure to read the conclusion for a special offer on this string for USRSA members.

In the lab

We tested the 17-gauge Big Hitter Blue Rough. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.19-1.22 mm prior to stringing, and 1.16-1.18 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 69 RDC units, representing a 7 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Unique Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 has a stiffness of 233 and a tension loss of 21.35 pounds. Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 35 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 32.3.

Unique recommends reducing the reference tension by five to ten percent compared to a typical nylon reference string, so that’s what we recommended to our playtest team.

Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 measures and feels much thinner than Big Hitter Blue 17, but otherwise they feel similar during installation. Just about any shaped or textured string is going to be more difficult to install than a comparable smooth string, but Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough is at the high end of the ease-of-use scale for such strings. The spiral shape didn’t saw on the mains while installing the crosses, and the seemingly prominent ridges did not cause Big Hitter Blue Rough to kink, spin, or otherwise turn itself into a rat’s nest when pulling it past a blocked hole. If you have sworn off spiral strings because of headaches when installing the crosses, Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough makes the process painless. Speaking of weaving the crosses, Big Hitter Blue Rough has a similar feel to its cylindrical siblings, meaning that the string is dry without dragging on the mains, and smooth without being slippery.

As with other Big Hitter Blue strings, the color is part of the string and doesn’t come off during play. (See the playtest report of Big Hitter Blue in the January 2008 issue of RSI.)

One playtester broke his sample during stringing, eight reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and two reported friction burn.

On the court

There’s not much to say about the playtest scores other than the fact that “Blue” blew the doors off the ratings, ending up in second place out of the 149 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication. In compiling this incredible overall score, Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 finished in first place in Spin Potential, in third place for Resistance to Movement, in fourth place for Control, in thirteenth place for Tension Retention, and in nineteenth place for Power. That’s five top-twenty finishes out of nine categories … for a “poly.” Our playtest team also ranked it well above average for Playability and Durability.

Five playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at six, eight, nine, ten, and 35 hours.

Conclusion

In case you’re not impressed that Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 has the second-best ranking of all the strings we’ve ever tested, it might interest you to learn that the only string to better it in the rankings is a premium natural gut. And in the Control category, Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 is our highest-ranked “poly” string to date.

As for the top ranking Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 received in the Spin Potential category, some might say that the real test for a “spin” string is when your opponent notices something different in how your ball comes off your strings. Coincidentally, one of our playtesters mentioned this (as have others who have experienced Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17 from the “wrong” side of the court), backing up another playtester’s comment that “kick serves bounce to the moon.”

If you want to try Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough for yourself, Unique has a special offer: “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” for anyone USRSA member who buys through Unique.

Playtester comments

“Excellent combination of feel, power, and spin. This is a topnotch polyester.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“This is comfortable polyester with very pronounced spin.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Blade strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string comes alive on big swings. The combination of comfort, control, and power is impressive. Polyester has come a long way.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One (68 Holes) strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Magic 16)

“The outstanding playability made me forget about the excessive coil memory. People actually noticed my increased spin and control from off the court! This poly excels in every category.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Four strung at 59 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“This is a high-end polyester with excellent bite, power, and control.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Hornet strung at 60 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code 17)

“Great feel, spin, and control!” 5.0 female baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 57 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 16)

“This is one of the best strings I have ever tested. The balance between comfort and durability is perfect. The control and spin are impressive. This is not a niche poly. It complements a wide range of playing styles.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 52 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string has a potent combination of power and spin.” 5.0 male all-court player using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 5 Hundred Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“This is a very comfortable poly with high durability.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head Youtek Radical Lite OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Power 17)

“Excellent spin and control. Outstanding tension maintenance. As a multifilament nylon user, I find this poly to be very playable.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nPro strung at 53 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Big swings stay in the court. This is a confidence string. Great for tournament play.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Youtek Prestige Pro MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“This string has pronounced dwell time, which provides a cupping effect. The playability, control, and power are unusually good.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“Power is excellent and control is outstanding. After 30 hours it still feels fresh. Heavy hitters will love the controllable power, spin, and durability.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“Stringing is effortless. Incredible touch for a polyester. More than sufficient power, spin, and control. I would recommend this to anyone I’m not playing against.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head Youtek Speed MP 70 Holes strung at 52 pounds CP (Genesis Hexonic 17)

“Topspin and slice players will get a lot out of this string. Hitting out is easy because the ball comes down very dramatically. Kick serves bounce to the moon.” female all-court player using Wilson K Six One 68 Holes strung at pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro )

“This is an exceptional polyester. While the comfort is only average, the durability, spin, and control are ‘off the charts.’ The playability does not waiver over time. I cannot wait to pick up some additional sets for my other sticks.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“Solid feel from the backcourt. Great spin control on serves. Players curious about polyester should start here.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson Khamsin Five FX strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Original Rough 16)

“Great spin!” 4.5 female all-court player using Head Youtek Six Star strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“Impressive durability. Decent power for a full poly setup. Touch and feel are slightly lacking.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Aero Storm (320 grams) strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon TIMO 18)

“This poly would make a great main in a hybrid.” 5.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince EXO3 White strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Poly Spin 3D 16L)

“This is an excellent poly for players with compact strokes. It is very solid on volleys, and the touch is surprisingly good. The extra power is sometimes hard to control. Very arm friendly. Great spin!” 3.5 male all-court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 17)

“Great tension maintenance for a poly. Crisp but not boardy. This string has more touch than its peers.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“Remarkably good depth and trajectory control at ultra low tensions. No trampoline.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Pro Tour strung at 32 pounds CP (Golden Set Hex Poly 17)

“Plenty of comfort. Plays great in an open pattern. Very little string movement. The spin is heavy and the slice is nasty. There is definitely some tension loss after 15 hours of play. By the end of the playtest, stroke adjustments are necessary to keep the ball from flying.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 58 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)

“This string plays a bit stiff, which is not uncommon for a full poly setup. It would play great if paired with a soft cross. The bite is excellent. Hitting hard is a pleasure. Unfortunately, it’s a little rough on the arm, and there is not quite enough feel to measure volleys.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon M2 Plus 16)

“This is a very lively polyester with above average control. Loss of tension is noticeable, but not a ‘deal breaker.’ The string broke on an backhand, perhaps struck a little too close to the frame.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Monster strung at 58 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“This string has decent control and spin, but comfort and durability are sub par.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT )

“The texture adds some bite. Tension holds very well. It plays a little firm and does not provide much comfort.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 54 pounds CP (Pacific ATP Hybrid 17)

“This string feels great initially. It lacks the typical polyester stiffness. Durability and control are impressive. While this string compliments the aggressive topspin game, it is not recommended to the older touch player. The biggest negative is tension loss.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Youtek Speed Elite strung at 56 pounds LO (Gosen OG Sheep Micro 16)

“This string feels very boardy. It lacks comfort, touch, and power.” 4.5 female all-court player using Prince EXO3 Rebel (hole inserts) strung at 57 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Touch 16)

“This string has low durability and poor tension maintenance. Perhaps a thicker gauge would last longer.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 55/59 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Babolat Pro Hurricane 16/16)

“This string lacks the ‘wow factor.’” 4.0 male all-court player using Head CrossBow 4 strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Enduro Pro 16)

“This string plays more comfortable than it handles. After a while the comfort goes away. The high tension loss leads to a lack of control. Resistance to movement is excellent. This string performs best on long, fast swings. Big hitters will like it.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 45 pounds CP (Pro Supex Big Ace Micro/Pro Supex Maxim Touch 18/17)

“This is a soft polyester which is not sufficiently durable or playable.” 6.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 White Lite strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
much easier 1
somewhat easier 2
about as easy 16
not quite as easy 12
not nearly as easy 4
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
much better 0
somewhat better 9
about as playable 11
not quite as playable 12
not nearly as playable 2
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
much better 4
somewhat better 11
about as durable 16
not quite as durable 1
not nearly as durable 2
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.6
Durability 4.1
Power 3.6
Control 3.9
Comfort 3.3
Touch/Feel 3.1
Spin Potential 4.1
Holding Tension 3.7
Resistance to Movement 4.2

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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